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Early and ongoing attachment disorganisation: implications for working with trauma and disordered personality in adults understanding and responding to complex and challenging client presentations

Event Details
Date: 22nd Nov 2019
Venue: Brisbane, Qld
CPD hrs: 7

Student and new graduate rates available

Organiser: The Professional Development People
Further information

Event date has passed

The concept of attachment difference within Attachment Theory has offered a truly valuable framework to understand many of the serious mental health care risks associated with childhood difficulties. This second 2019 attachment seminar extends this focus to addressing a relatively new set of adult differences identified as ‘attachment disorganisation’, something potentially influenced by ‘early and ongoing’ trauma and associated with adult personality disorders. In addition to clarifying current knowledge of ‘attachment disorganisation’ into adulthood, the seminar will also introduce more integrated approaches to treatment that include attachment and might also provide greater direction to our work. The first half of the seminar will focus on updating current empirical understandings of ‘attachment difference’ and identifying manifestations of ‘disorganised attachment’ in adulthood. The aim is to provide an informative picture of adult disorganization that will enhance initial assessment and evaluation of ongoing clinical progress.

Historically, the traditional adult identifications of maladaptive attachment— Unresolved/Disorganized/Cannot Classify Attachment (categories from the ground-breaking Adult Attachment Interview (AAI)) and Fearful-Avoidant Attachment (a continuum quadrant emerging from well validated self report tools in Social Psychology)—have proven too broad to adequately inform clinical concerns; the two measures have also proven difficult to integrate. However, researchers have begun to identify greater specificity in the more disordered adult ‘disorganised attachment’ through the employment of new and expanded measures. Participants will be introduced to currently proposed specifics for ‘disorganised attachment’ in adulthood, drawing on important updated measures of attachment difference. Groups will consider these perspectives in light of their work with clients who are confronted by longer-term mental health challenges. ‘Disorganised attachment’ will also be considered in light of early and ongoing experiences of trauma and dissociation. The second part of the seminar focuses on clinical skills for addressing ‘disorganised attachment’ including the clinical alliance and ongoing development of attachment.

The seminar will also clarify ‘what’ we may treat in therapy: ‘changing attachment’-a lifespan dynamic personality construct, ‘resolving trauma’ - a causal contributor to disorder, ‘modifying dissociation’ - a consequent symptom, and ‘enhancing’ reduced functional capacities typically associated with personality disorders, especially emotionand self-regulation. Attachment work will be situated within two integrated models of treatment [The Sequential Model of Emotional Processing (Pascual-Leone & Greenberg, 2007) & Character Adaptation Systems Theory (Henrique 2107)], one of which will be engaged in detail. Finally, attention will also be given to the practical considerations involved in working in a world of limited resources: How can we best respond to the need for longer-term work where clients may lack resources?

In summary, the seminar will explore how even disorganised attachments evolve across the lifespan, are not set in stone, and may be expected to demonstrate both continuity as well as change. This may serve as a beacon of hope for clients and therapists alike.

Learning objectives

  1. Identify important / emerging dimensions and measures of disorganised attachment and how they differ from more functional attachment styles.
  2. Differentiate the more reliable depictions of disorganised attachment, trauma, dissociation personality disorder from less helpful oversimplifications
  3. Understand possible dynamics in disorganised adult romantic relationships, including risk of abuse.
  4. Clarify clinical responses for working with disorganised adult attachment, esp. with trauma and personality disorders.
  5. Assist clients in enhancing their emotion regulatory skills
  6. Evaluate options for longer term work that may sit outside 10 session models.

Learning outcomes

How will you benefit from attending this training?

  • Gain a current understanding of adult ‘disorganised attachment’
  • Apply current findings on disorganization to enhance client assessment and ongoing case formulation
  • Expand skills and practice interventions for working with disorganization in the context of trauma and personality disorders

Presenter details

Kevin Keith, PhD is a counsellor, psychotherapist and supervisor. He splits time between private practice and education/academic activities. He is a lecturer in the Jansen Newman Institute (JNI) and Australian College of Applied Psychology (ACAP). In 2017, he completed his PhD at the University of Sydney (History and Philosophy of Science Unit) with primary research interests in Attachment Theory. His thesis—The Goal-Corrected Partnership: A Critical Assessment of the Research Programme—brings a focus on attachment development post-infancy. This work also rearticulates Attachment Theory in light of advances in the lifespan developmental sciences, especially approaches to biological complexity. Kevin presents regularly on Attachment Theory to a wide range of audiences, including a May 2016 paper at the International Society for Philosophy of Psychiatry in Atlanta GA USA [on attachment within the NIMH Research Domain Criteria, an alternative model to the DSM-5]. He is acclaimed as an engaging and inspiring presenter whose seminars change the way therapists perceive and work with their clients in ways that surprise and delight.

Location and date

Park Regis
293 North Quay
Brisbane QLD 4000

22 November 2019



Standard fee: $288

This event is fully catered and all resources are provided.

Students and new graduates may apply to attend at a discount apply here.


Register online by clicking here

Ph: 1300 887 622

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers